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Three ways Energy leaders are generating rapid, sustainable value with process intelligence

If we can take the events of the last few weeks as a sign of what’s to come in 2024, we’re in for another year of volatile geopolitical and macroeconomic fluctuations. Unsure of where the Energy market is heading, leaders have narrowed their focus to one key question: "How can we continue to get finished goods out the door and drive bottom-line revenue amidst the chaos?"

In my last post, I outlined how leaders are addressing that question by ramping up investments in technologies to boost operational performance. Specifically, technologies that can help them connect previously siloed functions and departments by a common language — Process Intelligence — so they can reveal new ways to align and take actions to improve liquidity, productivity and revenue.

In this post, we’re going to look at three ways Process Intelligence is being applied to Energy operations in real life — Plant Maintenance, Accounts Payable and Order-to-Cash — with a deeper dive on Plant Maintenance as an Energy-specific use case.

1. Streamlining Plant Maintenance

Leaders were already acutely aware of the need to avoid downtime — particularly unplanned downtime — with the latest estimates suggesting just 3.65 days of unplanned downtime a year (the equivalent of a 1% downtime rate) costs Energy businesses more than five million dollars. Given the current industry climate, there’s never been such an urgent need to improve this metric.

But improving your plant maintenance processes — let alone making the leap to predictive maintenance — is complex. Far from existing in a vacuum, plant maintenance sits across all three upstream, midstream and downstream segments, and cuts across multiple teams and departments — Work Order Management, Inventory and Materials Management, Procurement, AP — all of which tend to operate in their own siloes. For this reason, a limited BI, BPM or RPA tool that simply churns out more process data, or runs automations without actually streamlining your plant maintenance processes, isn’t going to make much of an impact.

This is why Process Intelligence is such a force multiplier: Unlike a standard BPM tool, Celonis not only mines your processes across your operation to give you holistic, real-time insights into performance, but also gives you the power to reimagine them with generative-AI-assisted process modeling, coupled with institutional knowledge on how your business operates. It then orchestrates continuous process improvements on your behalf – maximizing performance round the clock.

This means you can rapidly answer key questions — such as how your maintenance operations are affecting production uptime, how delays in material procurement and logistics are affecting their plant-maintenance schedules, and what the root causes of maintenance delays really are — and take immediate, data-driven actions.

For example: suppose you want to get to the bottom of why your scheduled adherence rate is low. A Process Intelligence platform will pull data from a wide range of source systems (Maximo, SAP, and beyond) to dive deep into all the variables that affect your rate, including mapping out the real-time flows between initial notifications, work orders, material reservations and purchase orders, revealing everything that happens along the way and flagging issues — plus next-best-action recommendations — automatically.

In the case of our example, suppose it reveals that one of the top inefficiencies bringing down your adherence rate is material delays. This is a valuable insight alone, but a Process Intelligence platform can dive much deeper into process analytics, revealing that your cooling towers and heat exchangers have the most work orders attached to them by far. In tandem, it can reveal process-related causes of delays, such as when your supplier was actually to blame due to delaying deliveries after you procured materials. Or when Procurement took too long to create a purchase requisition, and so on.

Armed with this level of insight, at scale, plus AI-enabled action recommendations, a Process Intelligence platform gives you all the tools you need to streamline your plant-maintenance processes, control plant maintenance continuously through process automation, and generate lasting, measurable value.

To learn more about how you can improve process performance in plant maintenance, watch Chevron’s Process Intelligence story, in conversation with Celonis.

2. Catching Duplicate Invoices in Accounts Payable

AP teams in Energy are using Process Intelligence to tap into their invoice-management modules (for example, in SAP), so they can identify duplicate invoices that would otherwise go undiscovered until a later audit.

The Process Intelligence platform groups invoices together that are suspected to be duplicates based on different patterns. Users can then review the identified potential duplicates with the help of a machine learning-based confidence score, provide feedback and take action accordingly, ultimately preventing unnecessary payments and invoice processing. From there, they can then use automation to block future duplicates.

This includes both exact invoices — which have matching invoice numbers, amounts, dates and vendors — as well as approximate duplicate invoices that may have been submitted twice, entered with an old due date or had a price update.

To learn more about how you can catch duplicate invoices and sharpen other key Finance processes in Energy, watch this webinar on how BP reimagined their AP model with Process Intelligence.

3. Reducing invoicing lead times in Order-to-Cash

Every additional day that creeps into an Energy company’s invoicing lead time can rack up millions or even tens of millions of dollars in monthly cash-flow impact. And when you’re an organization with multiple sales divisions, a complex supply chain and a diverse product range, identifying the causes of bottlenecks — let alone fixing them — is complex.

That’s usually due to a lack of visibility into end-to-end business processes, which in turn leaves you with no clear view on your ability to standardize processes, weed out deviations, and track high-priority KPIs like ticketing lead times, invoicing lead times or customer cancellation invoices.

With a Process Intelligence platform, every team that touches Order-to-Cash can see the same end-to-end picture and can work towards the same goals. Performance dashboards can be tailored to visualize key processes, measure activity in real time, and spot opportunities for process optimization.

See how Neste, the world’s largest producer of renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel, took the steps outlined above to cut their average invoice lead time in half and create an estimated monthly cash flow impact of 55 million euros.

Drive value from the things you can control with Process Intelligence

The pressure is on for Energy businesses to build resilience, as increasing market volatility threatens their profitability. Leaders know the ones who can find a way to boost performance — and ultimately, maximize bottom-line revenue — will be the ones who win. With Process Intelligence, ambitious Energy leaders are connecting their enterprises with a common language, to find and capture value at scale, enabling integration and orchestration across 1000+ systems from hydrocarbon logistics and asset management, to materials management, accounting, and customer service.

Time will tell what the rest of the year has in store for Energy companies, but leaders who embrace Process Intelligence will have the best chance to make faster, more informed and more profitable decisions in the face of market volatility, and drive sustainable value throughout their operations.

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Vijay Desiraju author headshot
Vijay Desiraju
Global Energy Industry Lead

Vijay Desiraju is Celonis’ Global Energy Industry Lead. He is responsible for guiding clients to billions in cost reduction opportunities across the Celonis Energy vertical. He works closely with client teams to drive value across the oil and gas value chain. Prior to Celonis, Vijay spent 14 years as a partner at Accenture, where he advised energy and utilities clients on digital transformation programs across the enterprise.

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